What Now?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 will be recorded in the history books as one of the most historic and tumultuous in the annals of American politics. Just two short years after a relative political neophyte named Barack Obama swept across the political landscape, winning the presidency, increasing Democrat majorities in the House and Senate, and driving out record numbers of youth and minorities to the polls with his steady mantra of “Hope and Change”, it seems some of the luster has faded.

Indeed, it is precisely because America saw little hope in their smooth-talking but results-deficient president that they turned on him and his party resoundingly. Even up to Election Day he was rallying the Democrat troops, and Speaker Pelosi was proclaiming that Democrats would retain control of the House, yet the rest of America had seen the writing on the wall for months. As it turned out, the American people had placed their hope in changing the balance of power.

With a smattering of races across the country still too close to call and undergoing recounts, here is what we know. The Republican Party has picked up at least 61 seats in the House, giving them their largest majority there since 1946, and five in the Senate, rendering Democrats impotent in any attempts to ram through any more controversial legislation. Republicans have picked up nearly a dozen governorships, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. The state legislatures in North Carolina and Alabama have turned Republican for the first time since the end of the War Between the States. This was part of the 11-state pick-up for Republicans of state legislatures.

This historic Republican wave ended the tenure of some of the longest serving Democrats, including Ike Skelton (elected in 1976), John Spratt (1983), Paul Kanjorski (1982), Rick Boucher (1982) and Russ Feingold (1992).

The analysis could go on indefinitely, but no matter how you slice it, it was a massive rejection and total repudiation of the agenda of Obama, Pelosi and Reid, of entitlement expansion, of deficit spending, and of tax increases. The theme of hope that inspired so many was tarnished by a president that called his political opponents “enemies”, who accused them, without substantiation, of some nefarious plot to use foreign money to buy the election, who turned from his rousing “one America” speech to a constant stream of race and class warfare. In the end he was exposed for what he is; not a Messiah, not even a Reagan, but just another politician seeking to expand power and influence.

What has been most noticeable about the aftermath of this election is the lack of Republican gloating at such a stunning turn of events. John Boehner, the presumptive House Speaker for the incoming Congress, was muted in his celebration and instead talked about the work to be done; ObamaCare to be repealed, tax cuts to be extended, deficits and spending to rein in. This is in stark contrast to the Democrats two years ago, who saw their election gains as a mandate for their ultra-liberal agenda, and who rubbed it in Republicans’ faces. This was epitomized by a meeting with Republican leadership, shortly after Obama’s inauguration, in which the president dismissed Republican concerns by reminding them pointedly that “I won the election”.

The Republicans are right to be muted in their celebration. Most of them, it seems, understand that this was not an embracing of the Republican Party, but a rejection of Democrats. We simply had no other choice if we were to block the destructive agenda of the Democrats. Senator-elect Marco Rubio (R-FL) may have captured it most succinctly in his victory speech, when he warned “We make a grave mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party. What they are is a second chance; a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.”

He has it absolutely right. This is not a victory; it is a stay of execution. It is a probationary period for the Republicans. Just as the Democrat wins in 2006 and 2008 did not signal an embrace of the far-left agenda, this election is not a sign that America trusts Republicans again. The next two years will decide whether that tentative trust was well placed, or if Republicans falter again.

The mainstream media has all along depicted the TEA Party movement as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican Party and FOX News. Of course, if that was the case, we would not have seen so many primary challengers to establishment Republicans. The TEA Party movement is no respecter of parties. They are respecters of principles. They rose up in response to the decades-long slide toward socialist statism, with the only difference between the parties being the speed at which they drove to that goal. The anger that welled up within the people of this movement grew under Bush with TARP and the bailouts, with No Child Left Behind and campaign finance reform. It finally reached a breaking point with Obama and the stimulus bill. The silent majority would be silent no more.

Republicans will solidify and expand the gains of this election during the 2012 cycle if they show they have learned their lesson. That means passing bills for the repeal of ObamaCare, even if it will not get through the Senate or an Obama veto. It means blocking any more spending measures filled with pork and bailouts, no more giveaways to the unions. It means calling for a permanent moratorium on pork spending, which would show the American people that they finally understand that the money belongs to the taxpayer, not the government, and that government has a solemn obligation to spend it wisely, and not for a litany of vote-buying schemes.

If Republicans fail to understand the message that was sent this past Tuesday, then I believe that we will see one of two things happen. Either we will see a huge wave of challengers to Republicans in the 2012 primaries; or, if that fails, we will see the TEA Parties form a third party of true low tax, limited government, constitutional conservatives that takes with it the majority of the base of the Republican Party. What we will NOT see is a return to the status quo, a return to big government which crushes the financial and personal freedom of its citizens.

Following his devastatingly successful surprise attack on the American Fleet at Pearl Harbor, amid the celebration of his officers and staff, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is reported to have solemnly proclaimed, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” In the battle for a return to the constitutional principles of our Founding Fathers, the Bush/Obama bailouts and stimulus was our Pearl Harbor, our shock to the system. Election Day 2012 was our Midway. Now we must finish the fight.

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